As must as I enjoyed volunteering in Costa Rica, I wish I had more time to explore the country. Thankfully, at the centre you have one day off a week since I was there for two weeks I had two days of to go and explore. Although in a very central location, days out involved getting a taxi (depending on where you want to go, there are busses) which can be costly, all my trips were done in groups which saved A LOT of money and I was fairly easy and where I went (basically went with the flow.)
My first trip was to Poás Volcano and San Jose.
Early in the morning we left the rescue centre to take the drive to Poás Volcano, I’m not entirely sure how long the drive was. We kept going up and up, surrounded by the most stunning scenery, honestly Costa Rica is one of the most beautiful countries I have ever been to, jungles and rainforest, mountains and blue skies in every direction you could look. However, the further we got up the cloudier and wetter it got, hopeful however we still went ahead and purchased tickets into the park. Well, the weather and luck was not on our side and we were greeted with a thick blanket of cloud over the volcano. It was slightly disappointing but just like animals you cannot predict the weather, so I tried not to let it put a downer on the day.
On the way back from the volcano we were dropped off at a little shop, although I cannot quite recall the name, we were greeted with strawberries, cheese and wine to try and another handful of food samples in an attempt to make us buy something. It was a nice shop however filled with typical souvenirs and sweet treats.
La Paz waterfall gardens was next on the agenda; however, we didn’t go into the gardens themselves you can see the waterfall from a road. A very loud and thunderous waterfall, a few snapshots later we were back on the road.
Between us we decided to head into San Jose and have a look around, I guess it would have been wrong of me to come to Costa Rica and not see San Jose. Two of the girls we were with had been living in Costa Rica for the last 6 months so they showed us a few of their favourite spots. We went round a market packed to the brim with handmade items, souvenirs etc. I picked up a feather which had Scarlet Macaws painted on them, I never tend to buy many things when I am away but I do like to have at least one thing to remind me of my time in another country. We went into a little bar to have some snacks and I tried my first and last chilli-guaro shot, it was the vilest shot I have ever had in my life, it really was not good. Chilli and alcohol should not be a thing. We wrapped up a very long day eating food in an Irish pub before heading back to the centre.
My second day trip was to Manuel Antonio.
The drive to Manuel Antonio was not pleasant, going through rolling hills and roads made my stomach feel so nauseous that I just wanted to sleep. We ended up stopping for breakfast and I was so relieved to be out the car. Although being a vegetarian the options was slim so my food of choice was toast and a smoothie. Not far from where we had breakfast is a bridge over Rio Tarcoles known as the ‘Croc Bridge.’
Evidently, you can see where the bridge gets its nickname from, there were so many Crocodiles underneath, all basking in the morning sunlight. I love watching animals and even though they were still whilst we were there I could have watched them for hours just to see if anything else would have occurred.
Manuel Antonio National Park is renowned for its diversity of plants and wildlife, with rainforest, white-sand beaches and coral reefs. Within seconds of walking into the park we were greeted by so many animals, capuchins, frogs, sloths, racoons, a porcupine… there was animals everywhere! To say my trip was all about animals, I feel so lucky that I got to not only work with so many species but saw such a vast amount of them in the wild.
I wasn’t entirely sure of what the plan was here, if we were going for a hike or whatever, turned out most people wanted to spend the day on the beach; I am not a beach person I would have preferred hiking but since I had brought a swimming costume with me and had still yet to use it I couldn’t wait to go swimming in ocean! The ocean was warm, but choppy with waves you had to tread water to keep above them. There was few yet scary moment when a few of us got caught under the waves; I remember being caught in a wave when I was a kid and it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life because I genuinely thought I was going to die, so I feel slightly mean laughing at it happening to someone else.
Once we had dried off and got changed we exited the park and went round a few markets. Then we went on a hunt for food, this took a while since it was extremely hard to find a table for all of us. This area is full with a lot more tourists than anywhere else I had been in Costa Rica previously. We finally settled on a restaurant which has amazingly good food and an incredible view of the ocean with toucans flying around and iguanas basking on roof tops (they also had two adorable dogs to pet but really they just wanted you to give them your food!)
Rather than heading straight back to the sanctuary we decided to stop of in Jacó to watch the sunset on the beach, we arrived just in time to see the sun setting in the car and caught the last part of it on the beach. Jacó is another tourist spot famous for its beaches and nightlife. It was a nice little town, full of restaurants, shops and tattoo parlours, which we all contemplated doing but the prices started from $70 plus. Instead, we went to a bar and I purchased the largest smoothie ever and we all swapped social media details. I feel so lucky to have spent a month in such a wonderful country, met some amazing people, got to work with some animals I never thought I ever would and got to see so many in the wild.
I hope I get to go back to Costa Rica one day in the future but for now I am looking forward for this year’s adventures, do you have any travel plans for the year?